NativeAmericanEssay - The Negative Impact of Colonization...

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The Negative Impact of Colonization on Native American Culture and Identity “By the 1820s, the term ‘colonization’ had become a popular label for the concept of solving social problems by the physical removal of undesirables.” 1 Colonization, as Anthony Wallace defined it, has been occurring for thousands of years and has impacted native populations both for better and for worse. While opinions vary, many Native American scholars such as Wallace tend to attach a negative stigma to the colonization of Native American lands. In the case of European colonization during the American Revolution, the Western ideals of colonists clashed with the cultural traditions of the Native Americans. The colonists stressed the importance of “civilization”, and implemented a “civilization” program to assist their Native American neighbors appear less primitive and more presentable. The program included new gender roles, a stronger focus on economics, and the introduction of more Westernized thinking – which ultimately meant changing essential elements of Native American culture. As a result of this “Indian reform” policy, the new, Western values were integrated into Indian society and changed its culture permanently. The cultural changes the Indians experienced resulted directly from the influences of European colonization and these lasting permutations in Indian culture can be seen through the following characteristics of “Western” society: a switch in gender roles from matrilineal to patrilineal values, the introduction of alcohol, and a wealth divide created among tribes. One aspect of Indian society colonists found faulty was the gender-based division of labor, common to various Indian cultures. In many Native American tribes, a man’s role in the community was to hunt and provide protection as a warrior. The woman’s role, on the other hand, was to farm and complete other domestic duties such as childcare. Most colonists viewed 1 Anthony F.C. Wallace, The Long, Bitter Trail: Andrew Jackson and the Indians (New York: Hill and Wang, 1993), 39. 1
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such assigned gender roles as being the opposite of Westernized thinking and progress: a woman’s role was to weave and cook, while the man’s role was to tend the fields and animals. In attempts to alter this system, colonists found the males uncooperative and less willing than the females to adapt to a “civilized” farming society. Despite their distaste for the colonists’ ideals, many Indians continued to trade deerskin
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This note was uploaded on 04/07/2008 for the course HIST 270 taught by Professor Hahn during the Spring '08 term at St. Olaf.

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NativeAmericanEssay - The Negative Impact of Colonization...

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